Behind-The-Scenes for Batman: Gotham Knight
Consider this a "TV Party" exclusive...
...I was fortunate enough to attend the Batman: Gotham Knight premiere at Wizard World, thanks to Chuck. What follows is not just a review of the new animated film - but also some behind-the-scenes information, and some little tidbits that I think will be of interest to you, the Comics Related reader.
Coming shortly before the premiere of The Dark Knight, Gotham Knight could easily be called "Animatrix with Batman (in Gregory Novack's terms). In fact, when DC was working with Time Warner on direct-to-dvd ideas, this was the first idea to be conceived (although it follows Superman: Doomsday and Justice League: New Frontier in order of release). In short, Gotham Knight is a great one-off experiment that is enjoyable viewing.
(I have to admit, I'm not a huge fan of anime - nothing wrong with it; it's just not a genre that appeals to me. Although I enjoyed the various "takes" on Batman from six distinctive Japanese anime artists...I am not motivated to seek out further anime. But at the very least, I've been exposed to something different, and I think that the direct-to-DVD approach of mixing different art styles and approaches is a great strategy for making these characters live and breathe in a different media).
In fact, what makes Gotham Knight enjoyable...is that there is a palpable love of Batman throughout. From the writing (the two strongest segments, in my opinion, being Greg Rucka's "Crossfire" and Brian Azarello's "In Darkness Dwells"), to the music, there is a great sense of admiration and appreciation for Batman. Even though many of the participants (writers, animators, and musicians) worked independently, the movie has an overall flow, and each segment can be watched individually...or in order. In other words, to paraphrase composer Christopher Drake, viewers will well, indeed, lose their "stuff" when they see this.
(OK, he didn't use the word "stuff", but I think you get the general idea. I'm still thrilled over the fact that Josh Olson - Academy Award nominated writer for A History of Violence - and I geeked out over a 1970s Batman story which he adapted into the DVD's first segment "Have I Got a Story For You". It's an effective opener that sets the tone - Batman is perceived in Gotham in different ways, and so we're going to experience Batman in a variety of contexts. Or as Mr. Olson put it, "I love Batman").
But Rucka and Azarello have some very distinctive ideas about handling the character, much of which comes through on the screen. Azarello (writer of my current favorite book, 100 Bullets) states that he believes Batman/Bruce Wayne "has not gone beyond a certain event in his life...he surrounds himself with reminders of his past"). "In Darkness Dwells" deals with early Bruce Wayne, learning to deal with pain both internal and external, and works rather effectively within the context.
Greg Rucka, however, brings his Gotham Central sensibilities to "Crossfire", bringing with him the characters of Crispus Allen and "Anna Ramirez" (a simple animated rename of Renee Montoya). Set against a story of a prisoner transfer, it shows that Batman - at this point in his career - is simply not trusted by various individuals in Gotham. Rucka provides what he calls a "street view" of Batman in his piece - after all, Rucka argues, if you see a shadow in your police boss' office - a shadow which flies away - would you necessarily trust that entity? Or suspect that the Batman may have darker motivations? The reader/viewer "takes it for granted" when they forget the power of the character, and in many ways, Rucka is attempting to bring that sense of wonder back to Batman.
(And fortunately, both men are willing to write again for the character, especially in an animated setting. Azarello, especially with a Joker graphic novel coming in October, feels he has a "few more" Batman stories to tell.)
Ah, my notebook is so full of little tidbits of information, I could keep on typing forever...but since you have been so loyal in following thus far, here are some various bullet points of trivia and information:
When Superman: Doomsday was being developed, Gregory Novack initially fought to have the four Supermen from the "Reign of the Superman" story included. Personally, I think it was a bad choice not to include them - it turned an excellent story on the nature of heroism into a pretty rote good clone/bad clone story.
Alan Burnett revealed that they chose Deadshot as a major villain is that he was a villain that they could not do on the old Batman animated series.
Producer Bruce Timm hinted that the upcoming animated Wonder Woman movie (with Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion) was "very, very violent"...and that their next project was hush-hush. No, I couldn't get it out of him.
Did I mention that I'm still reeling from discussing an old Batman story with an Academy Award nominated writer? It's almost as cool as being on the same website as Ron Fortier.
Finally, on behalf of all of you readers and followers on the forum....I decided to boldly ask Mr. Timm a question that has been on everyone's minds: with the focus on more obscure characters in Justice League: New Frontier, were there any plans they could talk about in terms of using B- and C-level characters.
Unfortunately, Mr. Timm (I'm not cool enough to call him "Bruce") mentioned that, simply for the "marquee value", they will be sticking with A list characters for the time being. However, he seemed to hint that with the level of interest in the Iron Man movie, there might be potential for some later releases focusing on some of those lesser-known characters...
...so hopefully, my dream of a Dan Spiegle-style Blackhawks movie will be coming to a DVD near me.
But that's enough for now - please feel free to visit the forums if you wish to discuss this month's column. Or, if you want to read more of my thoughts and insights, please feel free to check out my blog, Blog THIS, Pal!
Thanks for reading!
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